Friday, 26 October 2007

The Battle of Barletta - 8th October 2007

With Spanish intentions now clear, France reinforced its army of Naples and marched on the Spanish occupying Barletta.

Army value: 150 florins.
Battle Posture: Attack.
Battle Hand: 8 VPs.
Battle Advantage: 2 morale cards.

Army value: 120 florins.
Battle Posture: Defence.
Battle Hand: 8 & 4 VPs.
Battle Advantage: Remove one VP card.

The battle field was rolling hills, some quite steep, with a large lake (type V) anchoring the Spanish right. Objective points were a road junction in the centre of the field and a hill (type III) at the right rear of the Spanish deployment area. The former worth 8 VPs (initially 16 before the battle advantage was played), the latter 4 VPs.

French forces
Cavalry - Two units of elite French gendarmes, one unit of French gendarmes, one unit of Lance Spezatte, one unit of Stradiots, one unit of French militia mounted crossbows and one unit of mercenary mounted crossbows.

Infantry And Artillery - One unit of (9 stands) Swiss pike, one unit of (9 stands) Landsknecht pike, two units of mercenary arquebus, three units of French militia crossbows, two batteries of heavy guns and one battery of light guns.

Morale cards - 6 plus 2.

Deployment - The French deployed with their cavalry massed on their left, guns in the centre, Swiss, Landsknechts and mercenary arquebus right centre, and militia crossbows on their right.

Spanish forces
Cavalry - One unit of Lance Spezatte, one unit of genitors and one unit of Stradiots.

Infantry And Artillery - Three Spanish colunellas, two units of Spanish skirmishers, one unit of (9 stands) Landsknecht pike, one battery of medium guns, one battery of light guns and 12" of type III earthworks.

Morale cards - 5.

Deployment - The Spanish deployed their colunellas on their left / left centre, light guns and Spanish skirmishers defending earthworks in the centre with the reserve of Lance Spezatte, the Landsknechts and medium guns on their right centre, and light cavalry on their right.

The Battle
Before the battle started the French were disappointed to find that their Swiss pike had marched off during the night. They had been bribed by the Spanish, possibly with the connivance of the Pope, to march home (Campaign Ruse de Guerre card).

The Battle opened with the Spanish light cavalry seeking to envelop the French cavalry's left flank. This led to the first clash – Spanish Genitors crashed into a unit of French mounted crossbows, scattering them, but to their commander's chagrin failed to rally and pursued from the field. Spurred into action, the French cavalry counter attacked and drove off the remaining Spanish light cavalry which suffered heavy loss.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the field the French ordered their militia crossbows forward with two intentions; firstly, to pin down the Spanish colunellas and secondly to attempt a raid on the enemy baggage camp. At about this time the French artillery spoke for the first time.

Back on the other side of the field the French cavalry moved slowly forward, flanking and capturing the medium guns, which were unable to withdraw, as they went. Fearing the loss of the hill (and 4 VPs – 8 VPs to the French) the Spanish Landsknechts withdrew towards it, finally forming a hedgehog at its base, and awaited support from the Lance Spezatte reserve which was by now riding to the rescue.

Darkness was now rapidly approaching. The Landsknechts now marched on the cross roads. Seizing their opportunity the Spanish colunellas launched an attack of their own. This soon sent the French light troops (crossbows and Arquebusier) running for cover and exposed the flank of the French Landsknechts to what might prove decisive fire. Alas for the Spanish this was not to be. The French guns delivered devastating fire which reduced this attack to a bloody ruin.

The Spanish Commander

The battle now ended with the fall of night. Both objectives were contested. The Spanish claimed 12 VPs, but the French could claim 16 VPs (the 4VPs for the hill being doubled for being in the enemy deployment area). The result was a French marginal victory gaining 2 campaign victory points and a +1 bonus to the C-in-C's quality roll in his next battle, the Spanish were forced to withdraw one campaign area. Army value losses were comparatively light – French 21, Spanish 30.

Game Notes
The game suffered from several early turn ends due to equal initiative rolls. This prevented either side from inflicting more severe losses on each other, but possibly saved the Spanish from a more severe defeat. The Spanish were hampered in their initial deployment by the location of the 8VPs on the cross roads which forced them to deploy far forward and in unfavourable ground. Due to the size of the armies they were scaled down to 100 Vs 80 army value. Casualties were increased by 50% at the end of the battle.

Written by James Roach.

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